Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Leonard Williams will again take on the role as one of the key pieces along the Jets’ defensive line.
“We’re really looking forward to cutting him loose,” said defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. “He was high on my list to get a chance to draft. There’s a drastic difference in just the philosophy of how we play up front and he’s had some really great spring (practices). I can’t wait to get him in pads and ready to go. But he’s another one that I’m excited about the opportunity to help him be as good as he can be.”
Heading into his fifth season, the 6’5”, 302-pound 25-year-old is one of the most experienced players on the defensive line for the Green and White. In his first four years, Williams recorded 17 sacks—which included a career-high seven in 2016— one interception, three passes defenses, and a 2017 trip to the Pro Bowl. He is looking to take his game to another level.
“Just overall power, all around my whole body and balance,” Williams said when asked what he wanted to work on before training camp. “Understanding what I’m good at and what I’m not good at, and just trying to make a particular toolbox that I can use on the field.”
Let the Goose Loose
When the Jets traded a seventh-round pick for former Colts DL Henry Anderson in 2018, many didn’t know what to expect from the 6’6”, 301-pound beast who was coming off an unusual throat injury. But after tying for the team-lead with seven sacks and recording four passes defenses and 16 quarterback hits in his first stint in the green and white, Anderson earned himself a fresh three-year deal and a shiny new paycheck with the Jets.
“He’s one of those players that you always want. He’s very smart, very detailed, very thorough to the game,” said defensive line coach Andre Carter of Anderson. “I always say the Mike linebacker is the quarterback of the defense, but one thing about Henry Anderson is he’s like the quarterback of the defensive line. It’s very rare that you get a guy like him, based on all of his skillset. But he also understands the psychological mind frame of the offensive opponent where he can break down film and make quick adjustments when needed series by series. Watching film and analyzing our defense, he was the one that always stood out. He takes charge and is constantly communicating and understands where he fits.”
With Williams opposite him and a talented rookie beside him, Anderson will play a critical role in the interior for Gregg Williams’ defense this season.
See the Top Images of the Jets Defensive Line
The Rookie & The Vet
The Jets added a tremendous young talent to the trenches with the selection of 21-year-old DL Quinnen Williams. Taken with third overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft back in April, Williams was limited during most of the spring due to a calf injury. The versatile lineman, who played both defensive tackle and defensive end at Alabama, flashed some of his potential in the final week of OTAs when he took some first-team reps.
“Whatever Gregg wants me to do, I’m going to do it. I can play all positions, and he knows I can play all positions. And he knows I can learn all positions,” Williams said. “And just going through every day with these guys: Leo plays right end, Steve plays nose guard, and you’ve got Henry Anderson who plays left end. So knowing those three great guys, three great veterans, and three great leaders, I just pick their brain about every position to make it more easy for me to learn all three positions.”
The 33-year-old McLendon, a 10-year veteran, is a run stuffer who continues to inspire and motivate his teammates.
“I come out here and lead by example. I try to put what I do to work first, before I speak to anyone,” McLendon said. “Actions speak louder than words and we all know that. So I just try to humble myself for another year and continue to work extremely hard, and help these guys in any way possible that I can.”